Thanksgiving In The Snow

The following trip report is written by my wife Savina. I think it is really great, so I asked to post it here on my website, and she agreed. I hope you enjoy reading, and I hope Savina keeps writing. -Jeremy

Thursday, November 26th

The night before, we prepared most of the stuff. Jeremy got the camping kitchen from the closet. We woke up early saying Happy Thanksgiving. We were the most excited to go to the snow. The previous days we checked the weather twenty times and yes, there would be snow.

I prepared the food, Jeremy packed the car. We departed from the apartment at 9 am sharp. Jeremy drove first. We got gas and headed to Sacramento and Lake Tahoe and went over the Sierras. Just before Davis we witnessed a car accident which was scary but it seemed that it would not have too bad consequences. As we climbed freeway 50, we started to see snow everywhere. The trees were covered with snow and they looked like snowmen. I texted my family and Jeremy’s family with pictures of the snow. After Echo pass I started driving. We entered Nevada and entered California again. The landscape of the valley was incredibly beautiful. We had lunch (turkey salad) in a picnic area by Topaz lake.

It was already promisingly cold. It was snowing. Jeremy took a nap and I enjoyed the driving. The land felt very much like in western movies and it was clear that I was very far from my little home country. I listened to my sister's Manel CD. It kept snowing and I was driving very carefully. We saw a sign for chains and we put them on. Later on, the road was clear and we stopped to take the chains off. The car did not start again. After trying several times, Jeremy called AAA and a tow truck was sent to rescue us. We waited in the car drinking hot tea from the thermos. I say Jeremy was upset. I think he was a little. Camping in the car was cancelled and Jeremy called a hotel to spend the night while the car was in the shop. The tow truck driver was having a Thanksgiving away from home but he was nice. He put our car on the truck and then left it at the gas station next to the shop.

The shop just happened to be next door to the hotel. We checked in and went to our room upstairs, 225. We had Thai food in the microwave and called Jeremy’s family with facetime. They were at Debbie’s house with the two little kids. After dinner we had a dip in the outdoor hot tub. We would lie down on the snow and then run to the hot water. I dried my hair with the hair-drier. We slept very well feeling very fortunate.

Friday, November 27th

We were told that breakfast would be at 7 am by the hotel front counter but the guy who usually brings the donuts did not show up. We went to the shop at 8 am to talk to the guys. They were not sure if they could get any replacement piece during the holiday weekend. We looked at the hotels around to sleep that night and Jeremy made a bunch of calls. They all were sold out for Friday night. The situation grew quite desperate. At the end, the mechanic told us they were getting the piece from Bishop and that they will fix the car the same day. Knowing that we would be having a place to sleep — the original plan to sleep in the car at the RV campsite — we went ahead and took a bus to the Tamarack Lodge backcountry ski area (map). The bus took a while. Jeremy complains about his cold toes. We went to an open access road, Lake Mary road, and we meet other skiers with skins. Everybody seems happier and more relaxed in this area. The road was not very steep and the snow was well packed — not the most fun with the skins. We took some tracks on the left on what it seemed was a fire road across the trees. It was beautiful and the most fun. The snow was deep and powdery. I was sweating and threw myself on the snow for a rest. In just a moment I got terribly cold. My hands and feet were suffering much.

We came back skiing down the same fire road and then Lake Mary road to the Lodge. Then the bus just arrived. I took off my ski boots and my toes hurt very much as the circulation resumed inside my warm Ugg boots. Once at town, we went to get the car which was fixed. It was still early and Jeremy wanted to go to the gear shop to have a consultation about our boots and get suspenders for himself and socks for me. It took forever. We learned that Jeremy’s boots are actually a little big and my boots were all stuffed with extra shims that compressed my feet — and made them extra cold for lack of circulation. Then we went to our campsite. The RV park was full of snow.

We drove to the gas station to get marshmallows and firewood. We had to get firewood because the propane for our camping stove was too cold to work. We made fire together and cooked macaroni and cheese with sun-dried tomatoes and s'mores for dessert. No time for hot tub tonight. We decided to enjoy the fire.

We went to sleep in the car after a visit to the heated restrooms. I used the big sleeping bag and Jeremy used mine. I was first cold, especially because I forgot to put on a beanie, and then so warm I had to remove my socks.

Saturday, November 28th

Got up! Get ready to ski. Headed to the resort but seeing the terrible traffic we decided to go back to the back country ski center, this time driving. We have breakfast at the hotel there. We ski up the same public road and then turn right to the Red Cone area. Everything was beautiful. My favorite are the trees covered with snow that shines when the sun goes through.

Going up is fabulous and the most fun.

Going down is harder. And colder. We made most of our way down. At a point, I was so stuck in a steep section that I throw myself to the slope below. It was just another fall but at least this one gained me some progress downwards.

When we get to the main track, it is dark night. Jeremy believes walking is actually faster than skiing on the flat sections of the road. Maybe. But I’m too cold to stop to take my skis off. Jeremy has a headlamp, I don’t. The last section was the same Lake Mary road we skied the day before. For a moment it seems we are skiing in the Arctic winter fields. We finally get to the car. It is cold and the sky is clear. Back at the campsite we go to the hot tub. Then, to the cafe where we have classic American food. The second night in the campsite is good.

Sunday, November 29th

All the windows in the car are frozen and we even find some snow inside the car — from our breath. We take off. Most of the food we had for the drive back was frozen. Frozen carrots are kind of ok, frozen cucumbers not so much. I wanted to stop at Mono Lake but the road was so icy we had to turn back. We cross the Sierras in the opposite direction. To get to the Bay Area we crossed the delta around the Sacramento river, trying to avoid traffic. The countryside roads are crossing beautiful wetlands, the sun is going down with the best light. I’m happy. We are happy.